2. Background activities
i. Young people who are studying the period should be separated into class groups, with each group looking at a different policy area and creating a PowerPoint presentation (or something similar) which lists O’Neill’s successes and failures up to December 1967. Such an exercise will encourage students to display cross-curricular skills (namely UICT) and thinking skills (namely WO).
The three areas to be examined by each group are:
- Topic A: Building bridges with Northern nationalists (improving community relations)
- Topic B: Building bridges across the border (improving relations with Dublin)
- Topic C: Economic progress and development (improving Northern Ireland’s economy)
Concentrating on their chosen topic (or policy area), students must assess
- O’Neill’s position in January 1965;
- the content or nature of his policies;
- his hopes and aims;
- the responses of unionists and nationalists;
- the successes and failures of his approach up to December 1967;
- the significance, both immediate and lasting, of measures he had introduced before that time.
ii. The group exercises can be followed by a class discussion, in which students debate the proposition that O’Neill’s efforts to solve Northern Ireland’s political problems between January 1965 and December 1967 can be described as “too little, too late”. (COMM)
iii. Individual students should then draw up two lists,
- the first, showing the problems which O’Neill faced early in 1965 and
- the second, showing those which he faced at the end of 1967. (SM)
iv. Finally, students will create their own profiles of two key figures from the period.
- Key Figure 1: Terence O’Neill
- Key Figure 2: Ian Paisley
Each student will need to undertake his/ her own independent research and use pictorial sources, in order to create a fact file on each key figure. (PS and UICT)